Leading your first project can feel overwhelming at times. Thankfully, there are proven project management tips you can follow to ensure success. Read more now.
You’ve obtained your project management certification and you’re ready to lead your first project. Complete with your shiny new PMP, Agile or PRINCE2 certificate you’re prepped and ready to be unleashed into the exciting world of the project manager.
Or are you?
Take a look over these project management tips to ensure you dodge the pitfalls associated with this fast-paced and ever-changing industry. Five minutes here could save you a whole world of hurt down the line.
1. One of the Best Project Management Tips – Get Certified
We alluded to it right off the bat in our introduction, but if you haven’t already get yourself a project management certification. Aside from looking great on a resume, the certification course will be a fantastic source of learning and experience.
Whether you’re an experienced project manager looking to brush up on their skills or a complete novice making a career change, certification is almost always the right choice.
In addition, most certification bodies provide textbooks as part of the course. These are normally yours to take away upon completion and will serve as a fantastic ‘bible’ for your entire project management career.
2. Stockpile Reading Material
Starting a stash of reading or reference material early is a useful little project management tip you can have here for free. Don’t be afraid to collect books and keep them on your desk.
Seek out books relevant to your certification, organizational sector or which you simply understand or enjoy. You will find yourself reaching for them more often than you might think.
3. Set the Project Requirements
Important in itself, but arguably more important is to ensure these project requirements are agreed by all parties. This includes everyone from the customer or client right through to the relevant executive and project management team.
With a stringent set of requirements, project deliverables can be accurately measured. Without this comprehensive understanding of the project requirements by all parties, the end result of the project can sometimes be open to interpretation.
This is a disaster in project management. An old adage that you will often hear (and sometimes repeat) as a project manager is ‘ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet’.
Truer words were never spoken.
4. Be Wary of Scope Creep
Scope creep is the process that occurs when the goalposts keep shifting. We’ve all been part of a project where the client or customer specifies their requirements early on and all is well and good.
Then, partway through the project, they make a small adjustment. Then another. Then another, and all of a sudden the project scope is completely different.
Project-Management.com lists Scope Creep as the number one reason why projects fail, and with good reason. A successful project manager knows the early signs of scope creep. With this foreknowledge, they are better prepared to efficiently manage the chance process with an effective change control strategy.
5. Become a People Person
This doesn’t necessarily mean become a people-pleaser. What we are advocating here is understanding people.
Learn how to understand intentions and decipher people’s moods to ensure you never put your foot in it. Read the room, basically.
Developing empathy is another critical skill. For you, this might just be another project, but for the customer, this could be their everything. When a customer’s entire business might be riding on the success or failure of your project, don’t be curt.
Instead, practice empathy and understanding. Manage the customer’s expectations with one hand while steering and correcting the project with the other.
6. Get a Good Project Management Tool
The market is full of great products that can dramatically improve your project workflow and ensure the timeline runs as smoothly as possible. Take the time as a new project manager to select the one that is right for you, your project, and your organization.
Some programs, like Jira, offer a robust change control process in addition to utility as a project management toolset. Others, like Wrike, offer excellent collaboration and interactivity features to optimize and encourage teamwork.
Take a look through some of the top 10 project management tools to ensure you find one that ticks all the boxes for you. You’ll thank us later.
7. Learn to Love Uncertainty
Few things are certain in the world of project management, but uncertainty is one of them. Change is going to come at you from everywhere in the project hierarchy and you will need to learn to roll with the punches and adapt.
Develop robust procedures for dealing with change throughout the project lifecycle and always expect the unexpected.
8. If It Sounds like Work, the Project Manager Does It
This is something I learned during my own certification process to become a project manager. These exact words were shared with the class and they are gems of wisdom. As far as project management tips go, this is one of the better ones.
The moral of the story here is don’t be work-shy. As the project manager, it is your job to lead the project. You will need to step up to the plate to take charge and ownership of everything from report writing and minute taking to Gantt chart production and meeting organizer.
You are never going to be bored as a project manager. Just make sure your body and your mind are prepared. The life of a project manager will often involve working those awkward hours outside of hours to get that last deliverable pushed through or be available for a customer in a different timezone.
9. Have a Sense of Humor
Some of the best project managers I’ve ever known have also been the funniest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. You are going to be hit by all manner of setbacks as a project manager. These can range from missed deadlines to budget issues to scope creep, as we’ve already discussed.
The best thing you can do is take these in your stride with good humor and a smile, then set about making things right. Don’t let the difficulties you are going to encounter get the better of you.
We’re not saying you need to be Jim Carey, but having the ability to stay calm and smile when things are at their worst will take you a long way in this business.
10. Find a Mentor
Shadowing or working with an experienced project manager can teach you all sorts of things that books won’t. Everything from industry-specific tips and tricks to sharp one-liners to give you the gift of the gab.
One of the best project management tips we can offer is to find yourself an experienced mentor and learn, learn, learn.
The End of the Project
The life of a project manager is fast-paced and challenging. However, you will undoubtedly also find it lucrative and rewarding. With each new project comes a new set of challenges, making every day different and exciting.
You now have all the project management tips you’ll ever need. So, get your customer-friendly game face on and go out there and nail some projects. We know you can do it.
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